There were really three things in particular that sparked the idea and framed the project. I wanted to work with multimedia narratives, something I had never done before. I was also very excited about the opportunity to travel through the outback. Additionally, I was curious about intentional communities in Australia. This was sparked by a couple of articles I wrote while I was in Norway back in 2007.
I heard about a place called Trehyttelandsbyen (The Tree Hut Village) outside of Oslo. Seven people in their 20s had purchased an old cabin and an acre of land in the forest. They decided the cabin was their communal space and each built their own tree hut surrounding it, to live in. These were small huts, from 12-20 square meters, some as high up as 20 meters above ground.
All the tree huts were built exclusively with second-hand materials, and they had also added two buildings on the ground – an art workshop and a sound recording studio. They were not connected to the power grid or the council’s sewage system, as they used an outdoor composting toilet to fertilize the soil in their vegetable gardens. The group had done extensive work on their land to grow as much of their own food as possible, opting for a sustainable lifestyle, in accordance with nature.
After the group had lived in the village for eight years, the local council evicted them for breaching local building laws. The residents were also asked to tear down the tree huts. So began a long campaign for them to be recognized as an experimental eco-community.
Since then, the group has received much help in framing a proposal to the council, and as of mid-year 2010 they were successful, and have now moved back into their tree huts.
Read article in Dagsavisen (2007, Norwegian).